SAO PAULO – Fifty of the 105 inmates who escaped on Monday from a maximum-security prison in the northeastern Brazilian state of Paraiba have been apprehended, officials said.
Some 20 men armed with rifles and explosives arrived at the prison in four vehicles and opened fire on guard posts, the barracks and the main entrance of the Romeu Gonçalves Abrantes maximum-security prison in Joao Pessoa, the state capital, the Paraiba Prison Administration Secretariat said.
Guards and police engaged the gunmen in a shootout, the secretariat said, adding that the prison’s main door was then knocked down, allowing 105 prisoners to escape.
Another group of gunmen, meanwhile, blocked part of a nearby highway and shot a 36-year-old police officer in the head.
The officer was transported to a hospital, where he is listed in critical condition.
Police have not determined whether the two incidents are related.
The Federal University of Paraiba, some schools and hospitals suspended operations as a precaution to “ensure the safety of clients and professionals,” the Joao Pessoa Mayor’s Office said.
Security was bolstered in the city as officers sought to track down the prisoners still at large.